Vietnam

The rooster’s crow sounded in my ears the first morning I woke in Vietnam. 6:28/29AM. It reverberated on like an alarm with an erred snooze button. As if it came from the room opposite of ours; the sound coming from a smart device rather than a real rooster I didn’t get to spot from my room’s window view. In the subsequent mornings when I assumed I could rise to these sounds that are finely-tuned so naturally at 6:30 dawn time, Continue reading

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Swampy smell of early mornings

The strongest scent memory I have is the swampy smell of the early morning mist. You don’t get the scent at 9AM or later in the morning. Swampy smell doesn’t come from just rainy nights, even during nights when the air is warm and still. Perhaps I’ve been staying in areas where the greens are fertile in the vicinity, that is why this scent never seem to leave me at all.

I wouldn’t call it a comforting or even pleasant sort of smell. It is strangely familiar because Continue reading

My thoughts on ‘And Then There Were None’

And Then There Were None written by Agatha Christie is the first mystery novel I’d read this year or possibly for almost half a decade. An online pal recommended this book and I reserved it for collection in the local library. I’d usually spend a few weeks to complete reading a novel but for this one, I started it last weekend and finished it last night!

Synopsis:
10 characters are lured to Soldier Island by a fella named U.N. Owen. Note that these 10 characters are strangers to each other; they’re from various backgrounds and they’re lured into the island with different reasons. Continue reading

Here’s to the end of freshman year and more travels!

I started summer break about a week ago. This term’s finals drained me for real. I’m beginning to get really sick of studying… of rote learning. Memorizing for exams or for any other purposes usually delights me more than the assessments that require you to wreck your brains out doing critical thinking. But not now. Getting a bad grade for a critical thinking course doesn’t bother me anymore, that I can’t catch up with the rest and I’m on my own pace of… figuring something out!

This semester passed really quickly. I’m over being a freshman! I didn’t get to really know more people than I’d have expected myself to take the initiative to do so. I thought this awkward front of mine would get me to converse more comfortably with other people because that’d mean I’m being real and not hiding anything behind a cool and calm facade. I’m always being told off by my parents for not acting like peers of my age or even a couple of years younger than I am. Whenever I try to explain to them about this denial mode I’m in, the topic gets slapped down like a buzzing fly. Then I’d try to comfort myself that there’re the people whom I’ve seen on the television and in their personal life being all quirky and weird (probably because it’s expected of them)… and yet, it’s still possible for them to win in life with that sort of childish-like attitude. It’s OK to get overwhelmed and enthusiastic about things, like… karaoke, right?

I got a 12-weeks internship at MSF, which is great news for me (!) but not an extremely impressive piece to my family who sees it as one of the vacation jobs I took up. It’s some place I’d like to explore very much before… either feeling all determined about what I’d want to do after school OR being thrown back into the maze to look for an alternative that interests me. I really hope this works out! The thing is, I cringe alittle interacting with people, asking appropriate questions to get to know them better, forging relationships and all that. I did consider that maybe working with people on a job  like this (social worker, counselor) would be the least suitable. Perhaps if I want to help people, I was told that I could fix things and work something out that requires as minimal contact with human beings as possible. I don’t know. Maybe I’ll see interaction on the job differently. My previous working experience did overcome my fear of phone calls and hearing my own voice in a recording and perhaps over a mic (hoping that’s the case)?

3 days ago this week, I went to Batam island in Indonesia, with my Dad and Granny. Some interesting sights I feel obliged to share about this trip: people in coffee shops clapped for attention (sometimes it gets alittle confusing when there’re performers on stage), smoking in malls and hotel lobbies, people love their food fried (yes?) which is delightful to my palate ^^ and I’ve talked about this particular incident so many times to people around me but they didn’t think it was true at all – I saw a rat ran across on top of a ceiling pipe in a mall. It had steady scurries, that appears very cartoony to me because you don’t see that in real-life. Where could it be scurrying to? One of those square tunnels connected to the fans, like the ones in Toy Story?

Dad brought us to meet some of his friends there and they guided us around the vicinity. From that, I made a new friend along the way – a friend whom I didn’t talked to her much because I tried to think that it was due to a language barrier we had. I would not want to sound creepy to talk about her in a post like this but since it’s in a good way and there’s no identity revealed, I suppose I could talk about it. She drove us around and at that point, Dad was in a disbelief because he’d never been drove around by a 19-year-old, perhaps 20 now (which is no astonishment to people these days). He’d been astonished because I don’t have a driving license and I’d never talked to him about plans of getting one. Yes sure, I’d be getting a driving license anyway at some point of my life even though I have no intention to do so because it’s unusual to not know how to drive? I was like the child in this crowd. I couldn’t assimilate in their conversations. I’d been looking around the place to distract myself by observing my surroundings. There’d be a lot to talk about to say that she’s the kind of child every parent would be proud of. For me, even as someone who envies her (which I don’t mean trying to be like her), I think she is really nice, polite, accepting and there’s little-no pretentiousness in her being nice to her mother, even outside of us meeting them. The way I’ve been treating my parents isn’t something I’m very proud of and maybe alittle ashamed of. Some of it is attributed to the expectations they have of me and others attributed to my attitude towards them when they ask something of me and how much care and concern I’ve showed to them.

Travelling is something people can love it to death doing it even when they don’t do it very often. It only takes 1 trip out of your country to fall in love with this. You don’t need to go very far. It’s seeing everything around you with a fresh pair of eyes. The grass is always greener on the other side. As a tourist, you’re open to everything. For instance, you’re accepting towards a culture as backward in comparison to modernity and probably residing in a rundown cabin or a straw hut with water streaming through the broken roof on rainy days in a couple of days before leaving the place back home. Being a citizen of the place exudes a different outlook, even as a new resident who just moved in to become a citizen. I’ve always, always wondered how other people abroad see Singapore when they come over. I never understood why they’d travel ten over hours to somewhere expensive where they’d spend so much on things and especially experiences that aren’t that fancy and novel. City life and skyscrapers aren’t uncommon sightings. My impression is… Europe for architecture and the arts, USA for Hollywood, Asia (as a whole) for exotic food, culture (?), nature. It’ll take awhile for me to form impressions from the media, books and hopefully travels, on other parts of the world! I’ve said this before: I want to be able to explore my home country with the eyes of a tourist. Someday, I would like to travel to another country, reside there for awhile, maybe 3 months or longer, and then come back here. I want to learn a new language, which means conversing with it among the local people there in a decent amount! I want to feel homesick for once and regain a newfound novelty (probably not the best word to use after “newfound”) and curiosity one could only get when they’re travelling.

I dug up an old private post for a quote from a book I read, Tuscan Holiday, which I think it is perfectly-timed to share in a post like this one.

And I thought again about how travel – how being in an unfamiliar place , surrounded by unfamiliar faces and languages not your own – changes so much about a person at the moment and, sometimes, forever after.

It’s that travel is both disconcerting and liberating, if done outside of the tightly controlled, slightly anemic tradition of planned tours. You experience a sense of dislocation, a heightened-awareness of possible lives other than the one you are currently living; you live in anticipation of something unpredictable about to happen, something you both fear and desire.

Joy Luck Club

“This feather may look worthless, but it comes from afar and carries with it all my good intentions.”

Joy Luck Club has kept my time, as well as my thoughts, occupied for the past month. I first came to hear about the book title when it was mentioned by a Philosophy professor who conducted the university admission interview with me.

The result of the interview? He didn’t give me the approval to admit into his bachelor’s programme, but what I gained from that interview was a good read; served with a side of food for thought, lasting enough to remain in my memory for quite awhile before another plot takes over from there. I bought the book online. No second thoughts on the purchase, even though it was just S$2. The yellowed paperback cover and the pages did justice to how much it was charged but the story was certainly worth more than that.

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Writing 101, Day Two: A View of my Morning

“Enter a busy train station, and you immediately quicken your step. Step into a majestic cathedral, and you lower your voice and automatically look up. Return to your own room, and your body relaxes.”                                                            -Daily Post

For day two of the Writing 101 challenge, I want to write about the settings I come across every morning when I go to work.

At home, my study desk is like a dug hole where I’d dump everything in it; besides having my laptop which is always layered with dust even though I have tried to wipe it clean every weekend, a work lamp and a gifted calendar I barely took a second look at the dates since I placed it there. The items that have always took its place on my desk are the cosmetics lying all over (previously replaced by the piles of notes, textbooks and plenty of dried-out ink pens before I threw them all out after finals), nail polish bottles, some acne medication, hair bands and the cooling powder which occasionally comes in useful whenever I experience that sort of irritable heat on many humid afternoons I spent at home.

Truth to be told, ever since Mom and I sold our house and rented a room, I’ve been spending most of my time by my study desk when I’m at home. I even have my meals here because we certainly do not have a dining table in a rented room, of course. Although I claim it to be a ‘dug hole’; as OCD as it sounds like, there’s no place I’d rather be (one reason is also because my bed is right beside my desk). There’s everything I need right here that is practically within my reach.

7AM (or 6:50AM, or maybe latest 7:10AM if I don’t oversleep): I rise for work. Nothing still feels more comfortable than my bed in the morning. Those sheets just, somehow, they become cool in the morning. They’re the closest one can get to resting on fluffed clouds which are totally make-believe! I don’t usually have good sleeps since I don’t sleep early but I have to rise early. I realized that my kind of good sleeps, unfortunately, are the ones when I’d try to take a late nap at around 8PM on the previous night while I set the alarm at 10PM but incidentally snoozed it, so I’d end up sleeping until the break of dawn. If I’m lucky, I’d still be in time for work. My preparation for work is basically really routinal: brushed up, dressed up and try to cake up the face alittle, then going to work.

I dread the most about the journey to work.
7:55AM: I take a 15 minutes walk to the train station but it’s not about that that I dislike. It’s good exercise, considering I don’t do that much. In fact, I like the nature stroll, coupled with (with no one but) your favorite music in the playlist. At least it’s something I could try to enjoy before the day begins. Over at the train station, snake-long queues formed outside the train doors are not uncommon.

I’ve heard from someone that there are many observations one can make in morning train rides and it’s true, especially during that time of the day. You can easily group the commuters into different categories: the people who doze off in their seats, people who have their nose in a book and the ones on their mobile devices as well (the category that most of the commuters fall under), the earpiece-plugged-ins and the miscellaneous others, e.g. the ones staring into space.

Smiles are a rare sight in the morning because it is not effortless to put on a smile early in the morning when you barely can get out of bed. Occasionally, I can hear the commuter next to me sigh and display signs of annoyance and displeasure, like fidgeting, when I accidentally brushed my bag against his/her’s. The train can get so shaky sometimes that it’s just not possible to fall back a step if you’re not holding onto anything for support.

About two years ago if I remember correctly; while I was working as an intern, I stepped onto a lady’s foot in the train while she was wearing open-toed sandals with nicely-done pedicures. I can imagine how much that hurts because she yelled “ouch!” and all the commuters turned to me. It appears that no apology is accepted because I got the kind of stare from her which seems to me like the kind of look one would give before slapping the other person, but it didn’t happen. I scrunched my toes so closely to the ground because I was standing right next to her throughout the ride and I had to make sure that it won’t happen the second time.

Pick your gadget.

Your local electronics store has just started selling time machines, anywhere doors, and invisibility helmets. You can only afford one. Which of these do you buy, and why? [original post here]

My instantaneous response was: Anywhere doors!

I mean, travelling through time is fun as well. Back and forth. You get to undo the mistakes you’ve regretted for a long time. But at the same time, when we get to change such circumstances, things won’t be the same. There won’t be lessons learnt from unpleasant experiences and we wouldn’t have met the people we know of now along the way. Surely there isn’t a foreseeing function that comes with the time machine. Things could get worse the more we try to change it. But maybe buying a time machine isn’t for the purpose of trying to change situations. It could be nice to go back in time to experience trends… to soak yourself in the air of the classic eras you’ve missed.

Invisibility helmets?

I thought it’d be invisibility cloaks! The first thing that came into my mind when I think of being invisible is for the purpose of sneaking into your lecturer’s room to get the answer scripts for the upcoming final exams. Pulling pranks on the class bully without getting discovered. To the office pantry for the juiciest gossips! But there’re surely a lot more morally-right deeds one can do with an invisible cloak.

Anywhere doors because it has always been my dream to explore the world! Travel to places, without air fares and time constraints being the barriers. I would take a travel notebook with me and jump right to wherever it takes me on the other side of the door, provided if there’s a way back. Every day when I return back home from work, an adventure could really help to liven up my life. This could be my secret life behind the dullest exterior I have. Talking about the dullest exterior, I wanted to share a quote by Mark Twain – a piece of advice I heed ever since  I came across it whenever I think of how “dull” my life can get as a 20-year-old.

There was never yet an uninteresting life. Such a thing is an impossibility. Inside of the dullest exterior there is a drama, a comedy, and a tragedy.

Malaysia!

Finally a considerable amount of data network to do some blogging!

I’ve spent about a week here in Ipoh, Malaysia. Mom’s birthplace. I’ve not seen my grandma and grandpa, uncles and aunts, as well as the new cousins for 10 years now. They speak so much Cantonese that sometimes, watching them talk feels like watching a Hong Kong drama series. I understand alittle bit but I can’t speak the dialect in full sentences. I’m the only one who can’t speak the local dialect there and at times, it makes me feel guilty to have others to translate it just for me. And dining table conversations… Awkward.

But I’m glad that I’m starting to familiarize myself with the new cousins. There is a huge age gap though, about 5 years and more. Continue reading

Stephen King’s description of ‘Muse’

I came across an interesting excerpt in a book I just recently started reading, On Writing – A Memoir of the Craft, written by Stephen King. The title was first introduced to me by a fellow blogger, Willow (and you can check out her interesting write-ups here!)

Stephen King in his home office, 1980’s
Photo courtesy of: npr.org

In the book, Stephen King shared about the bits and pieces of his experience with writing while he was growing up (and growing old). Some of them I couldn’t really understand but I have a general idea of what’s told in the book. There were also plenty of tips he provided the readers with, even though he did indirectly imply that there will be some kind of harsh truth. Also, the way he describes… stuff is really entertaining to read. About writing and about the people/things in his life. And I really love this particular description of the term, muse, he spins up with:

 

“There is a muse, but he’s not going to come fluttering down into your writing room and scatter creative fairy-dust all over your typewriter or computer station. He lives in the ground. He’s a basement guy. You have to descend to his level, and once you get down there you have to furnish an apartment for him to live in. You have to do all the grunt labor, in other words, while the muse sits and smokes cigars and admires his bowling trophies and pretends to ignore you. Do you think it’s fair? I think it’s fair. He may not be much to look at, that muse-guy, and he may not be much of a conversationalist (what I get out of mine is mostly surly grunts, unless he’s on duty), but he’s got the inspiration. It’s right that you should do all the work and burn all the midnight oil, because the guy with the cigar and little wings got a bag of magic. There’s stuff in there that can change your life.”

The way King twisted the idea of muse, or maybe his idea of muse – that muse isn’t just all fairy-dust. It gives a new perspective to something that has always been perceived as god/angel-sent and coincidental luck. In fact, it seems to be the contrary, I thought. It turns out to be a man, instead of a goddess or a lady. He isn’t much of a socialite, doesn’t talk much and has a pretty bad attitude. You will have to “descend to his level” and put up with the “grunt labor” he’ll get you to do before you can reach your hand down into his bag of magic dust. It is like, muse is all hard work and tolerance. There seems to be also this assurance and certainty (promised by King) that all the tough work you undertake will eventually pay off, to the extent that it will turn your life around and muse isn’t simply just a chance-thing.

Writer’s block, TV series and twisted fairy tales.

I thought I should start writing about something again before I stop doing it completely, but I don’t know where to start. I’ve tried returning back to the Daily Prompts as the starting point, but always ended up deleting the posts halfway through writing. This happens so frequently.

I have been thinking about a quote I came across on Twitter a few days ago,

Saving your good writing for a book is like saving your good running for the marathon: if it’s not a habit now, it won’t be there later.

I don’t imply I can write a book… Also, it seems impossible at all – like how do the ideas of writers come about? But I do relate to this quote as to ‘practice makes perfect’! Surely there’s alot of practice to do.

Today I’ll blog about a TV series I’ve immersed myself in, Once Upon A Time. The show started airing a few years back, but I was recently introduced to it by a friend. The brief synopsis provided by my friend sounded quite appealing and intriguing, which triggered me to download the episodes online. It’s a fairy tale drama series. It’s my first attempt on these sort of fantasy / mythical TV shows; the American ones I’m referring to.

Generally, I’m not good at deciphering the plot and what’s-going-on with the characters in such TV series. How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory and Glee puzzle me, mostly due to the laughter tracks thrown into random scenes in the show. So far, I’ve only been exposed to comedy TV series like New Girl and 2 Broke Girls, with forms of simple humor I can understand. You get hooked on it once the humor gets you the first instance. There aren’t many episodes in each season and every episode runs so quickly, that it becomes a pain to wait for the next one a week or subsequent few weeks later.

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